INTERVIEW: Endeavour’s Shaun Evans on the new series dynamic & its approaching end

Endeavour returns for its 6th season tonight on ITV in the UK (and 16th June on Masterpiece on PBS in the US), and the season sees a new situation for Morse, Thursday, and the rest of the now-defunct Oxford City Police as they’ve been scattered to the wind in the wake of restructuring. After last week’s TCA Winter Tour Presentation we took the opportunity to ask a few questions of series star Shaun Evans.

In a glimpse at Season 6 of Endeavour that was shown during the presentation, it becomes pretty clear that while Morse, with his strict moral code, has long been able to rein in what one might say were the less-savory aspects of Fred Thursday’s behavior (read: his willingness to get a bit rough with someone he’s interrogating), the fact that the two are no longer working directly together, and Thursday has been assigned to a division that includes coppers we know are unethical from their appearances in Season 5. So where does that leave Morse and Thursday now?

I suppose they’ve never been further apart,” says Evans, and continues the discussion, referring to the story that plays out from the end of Season 5, when their colleague George Fancy was murdered, and the culprit remains at large, with the team vowing to continue their investigations even as they are pulled apart professionally. “Ultimately, they need each other in this. If that continues apace, they need each other in order to fulfill the next level of their obligations.”

I also think it’s never been a more honest relationship,” he continues. “That’s what I’ve noticed in the acting at least. It’s never felt more honest and open and we’ve never connected as much, so my hope is that that comes across in the story, which I think it does.”

The other dangling thread at the end of Season 5 was the kernel of a hope that Morse would finally find love (albeit doomed, as we know from Inspector Morse that he remains a bachelor indefinitely) with Thursday’s daughter, Joan. But it doesn’t sound like we’ll be getting even a happy interlude anytime soon. Evans expressed his desire for an unsatisfactory union for the two when discussing the subject during the panel, but he claims he’s been met with resistance when pitching the idea. “You know, why not get together and then it’s if, like I said, to be a nightmare. For it to be not what you thought it would be, do you know what I mean? Like I think there’s something particularly heartbreaking about that rather than, oh they just won’t get together. You know what, who knows? We haven’t at this point and who knows.” 

Evans has also long discussed the importance of keeping the series fresh and engaging, and that he isn’t someone who would want to stay in a series indefinitely. He’s even recently alluded to the fact that the series could soon be coming to an end. When pressed on the subject, he’s very blunt. “We constantly have story meetings about all of this. And I think, there are lots of ways to take the lead from me, so no one’s gonna force anyone to do something more than they want to do. And I think, it should be imagination and intuition [that keeps driving the story forward]. So, if you feel as though it’s done, then I don’t know, then it’s gonna be a feeling rather than ‘OK, he needs to have done this and have x-amount of money in the bank’ or whatever, do you know what I mean?”

I’ll be honest in this story, there’s no two ways about it, I wouldn’t sign [a contract] for any extended period of time so you take like all, well, I did, on a season by season basis. Also the story should dictate not an arbitrary number of seasons to make someone else… to sell someone else the story. And I think that there’s a very concrete thing which happens at the end of this particular season. I think it could potentially be an ending but we’ll just have to see. We’ll just have to see.”

Season 6 of Endeavour… the final (?! watch this space…) season starts its 4 episode run tonight on ITV.